Tag Archives: twilight

Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter Y




is for Young Adult




Young adult (YA) novels are novels that appeal to adolescents and teenagers. In YA the main character is usually a pre-teen or teen and theme is often emphasized over the more traditional elements of storytelling such as plot and character. I’ve recently begun my foray into YA novel writing, with the soon to be released The Revenant and next year’s release (hopefully) of I am, Was, Will be Alice.

YA novels are usually subdivided into 3 genres, middle-grade (10 – 13ish), true YA (14ish to 18 or so) and new adult (19+). Most of the time the main character is the same age as the target audience.

The actual target audience of YA is hard to gauge as, quite often, adults enjoy these novels, too. This accounts for the popularity of such blockbuster series as Twilight or Harry Potter.

Do you read YA? Do you purposely seek out YA or do you read a book if it appeals to you regardless of it’s intended audience. Post your opinion of YA novels in the comments below.



The Lure of the Vampire, or Why We Fantasize about Dead People

Vampire lore owes its popularity to Bram Stoker and the release of Dracula in 1897 at the height of the Victorian Era. At that time there were strict rules for how men and women should act in public, such as women never appearing in public or found alone with someone who wasn’t their father, brother or husband. Women’s clothing was generally quite restrictive with high necklines, bustles (to accentuate the behind) and corsets (to cinch the waistline). Necks and ankles were considered “sexy”, only because they were, for the most part, hidden from view.

In the novel, Dracula creeps into both Lucy and Mina’s rooms whilst they sleep to bite each of them on the neck. This challenged a number of social values including men and women being alone without chaperones and men seeing women in anything other than full dress. Women were expected to restrain their desires, yet the female characters in Dracula welcome his penetration (pun intended). The titillation factor was high as a result, which might account for the popularity of the novel in the long term.

Symbolically, blood and the drawing of it have sensual connotations. Blood signifies a woman’s coming of reproductive age. It is associated with the loss of her virginity and subsequent sexual awakening. It is also spilled with childbirth (Kella), all topics that were not discussed in polite company, yet implicitly referenced in vampire lore.

The main thing that’s changed since Dracula’s heyday on the literary stage is the degree of vampiric humanity. Most vampires are young and attractive. They are driven by their appetite for blood, their lust, and their emotions. Many male vampires (think Aidan from Being Human and Damon from Vampire Diaries) epitomize the leather-clad bad-boy popularized by James Dean in the fifties and which a number of ladies still find appealing.

Modern vampires are tragic figures who, lives cut short and often sired against their will, evoke pathos in their struggle against what they’ve become and what they’ve had to do to survive the ages. They are portrayed as broken brooders in search of the one person on earth who is able to fix them. Though they sometimes mate with their peers, they often desire human companionship. Even then they are forever doomed to play Romeo to a still human Juliet, taking star-crossed lover after star-crossed lover only to watch them grow old, perish and die unless he turns her.

In spite of the myriad books, movies and television shows, vampires are still hot, the object of fear and fantasy for so many of us.

Which vampire or vampire story is your favourite? What was it that attracted you to it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Beautiful Twilight

I have read a bit of young adult (YA) fiction in my life, more that I remember since I’ve been an adult than a young adult. Most of my exposure to YA is vicariously through my students. Every year, my grade 10 English students must pick a YA novel and write two reading journals (retell, reflect and relate), a newspaper article about a significant event in the novel and do a literary analysis presentation on it. I learn a lot about YA novels and themes from them. Since I’ve decided to try and write the next great North American YA novel, I’ve made a concerted effort to read more YA. I have to say, so far, my choices haven’t impressed me.

The last YA novel I attempted (unsuccessfully as I didn’t finish) to read was Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The reasons I chose this book were because I remember seeing the trailers for the movie in the theatre and it looked interesting, and honestly, because it was free at the Kobo bookstore. The preview seemed interesting, and so I downloaded.

In Beautiful Creatures, Ethan Wate befriends new student Lena Duchannes at school. He finds himself attracted to her, primarily because she’s different from the other girls and he’s intrigued by the strange things that seem to happen around her. When a window breaks near her and without her touching it, Ethan goes to her home to check on her and winds up befriending her. Their friendship soon turns into a romance. Lena and Ethan find they have been dreaming about each other and they are able to communicate by thinking to each other. Ethan soon learns Lena is a caster. She is about to turn sixteen and her powers are beginning to manifest, though she cannot always control them. On her sixteenth birthday—many months into the future from the start of the book—she will be claimed, either by light or dark and her life will change. Her greatest fear is she will be claimed by the dark and turn into an evil caster like her cousin and her mother.

To its credit, Beautiful Creatures uses great allusions that many teens will recognize. Lena’s reclusive uncle is compared to Boo Radley of To Kill a Mockingbird fame. He even owns a dog whose name is Boo Radley that follows the couple around throughout the book. There are also comparisons to Gone with the Wind that I understood, but might be over most teens’ heads, unless they grew up in the American south. There were sections of the book which made me second guess my giving up, but these always gave way to slower narrative and focus on Ethan and Lena’s connection which seemed forced at times. Also, romance just isn’t my bag; I felt the concentration on teen angst and romantic insecurity too soupy for my liking at times.

Once Ethan meets Lena, the book reminded me too much of Twilight. In Twilight, Bella lives in a small, boring town and meets Edward with whom she’s forced to work in class. When Edward saves Bella from certain death in a strange feat of strength, she feels a connection to him, thus beginning their relationship. In Beautiful Creatures, Ethan lives in a small, boring town and meets Lena with whom he chooses to work in class when no one else wants to. When Ethan witnesses Lena exert a feat of mental strength, he feels a connection to her, thus beginning their relationship. Also, I felt that the novel begins too much in advance of Lena’s transformation. The reader must slog through six months of Lena’s angst around being claimed, which is too much anticipation. Lastly, the parameters of Lena’s abilities are too wishy-washy. Other casters’ abilities are specific; they can do one thing. Lena seems to be able to do more than most casters, which makes it seem like the authors invented her abilities as they needed them to advance the plot. I found myself often frustrated as I tried to figure out the parameters of magic in the Beautiful Creatures world.

If you are a young girl looking for a supernatural romance, I think you might enjoy this novel, especially if you liked Twilight (which I didn’t). For an adult not interested in romance, but rather, in great literature with clear cut rules governing the science and magic of the fictional world in which to immerse yourself for a few hours, Beautiful Creatures is not for you.

Graphic from: http://books.google.ca/books/about/Beautiful_Creatures.html?id=hTE6xarZsk8C&redir_esc=y

About the Author

Elise Abram, English teacher and former archaeologist, has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back (and may be accessed at @RKLOGYprof). Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.

Download PHASE SHIFT for the price of a tweet. Visit http://www.eliseabram.com, click on the button, tweet or Facebook about my novel and download it for FREE!